Top 5 Must-See Phoenix Shows This Week

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Mutual Benefit - Rhythm Room - Wednesday, January 29

If anything, the rise in digital downloads has, for many bands, discouraged the need to "fill" a CD. Blame it on the Red Hot Chili Peppers who packed Blood Sugar Sex Magik to the bitter last second with music. Half as much would have made a fine album. Other bands, seeing the Chili Peppers' success, followed suit, proving more is rarely better. Now that such foolishness has been pushed aside, bands can instead focus on quality over quantity.

Twin Peaks' Sunken, for example, was a 19-minute tour de force. Mutual Benefit's "Love's Crushing Diamond" is longer, clocking at just under 32 minutes of blissful, atmospheric, hallucinogenic wanderings that shift from open, endless fields of flowers to stark forests of wintertime birch to sparkling wave-crested beaches at sunset. With stripped-down instrumentation that includes banjo, violin, acoustic guitars, toy piano and found and synthesized sounds, singer-songwriter-bandleader Jordan Lee has created an orchestral folk album of harrowing beauty reflecting his enlightening years of musical struggle as a road weary troubadour. The lush, yet harrowing beauty is genuinely heartfelt and dreamy as vocals (Lee's and female forms) float among the hazy landscapes. Yes, with Mutual Benefit, a little goes a long, long way. -- Glenn BurnSilver

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.